Goan footballer chosen for Gary Lineker scholarship

London, April 22 (IANS) A young footballer from Goa has been chosen to kick off the first Gary Lineker Football Scholarship.

Lesten Martins, 15, who will travel to Britain Thursday to train with Leicester City Football Club and sample the life of a professional footballer in this country, said, “I can’t wait to get to England and train with Leicester City.

“It is my dream to be a footballer, and I can’t believe I’m going to have the chance to train with a professional team.”

The scholarship, sponsored by Air India, is part of the Leicester India Football Link, an initiative aimed forging closer links between India and the English city of Leicester, often called ‘Little India’ for its large Indian-origin population.

It was launched by LCFC Chairman Milan Mandaric, British High Commissioner to India Sir Richard Stagg and Indian-origin MP Keith Vaz, who represents a Leicester constituency.

It follows a hugely successful tour to Goa in October last year by a group of Under-14 footballers from Leicester.

During the tour, Lesten was identified by the coaches who accompanied the touring party as possessing great ability, and they chose him to receive this once in a lifetime opportunity, Vaz’s office said Wednesday.

In addition to training with the club, Lesten will attend the Foxes final home game of the season against Scunthorpe and meet with Leicester City football legend and former England captain Gary Lineker.

Vaz said, “It’s wonderful to be able to welcome this talented young man to Leicester. The players from Leicester enjoyed a fantastic tour last year and I’m delighted that the link between the two communities can be further strengthened through the Gary Lineker Scholarship.”